Create a Customer Win-Back Strategy in 12 Simple Steps

A customer win-back strategy is your key to winning back customers who may have turned to alternatives, had less-than-great experiences, or lost touch with your brand.

This blog post will guide you through this strategy, explaining why customers leave and providing methods to bring them back.

Imagine you run a coffee shop, and some regulars have stopped coming. It could be because they found a new café or had a bad latte.

Or maybe they just forgot how much they loved your place. Whatever the reason, we're here to help you get them back.

Customer win-back strategy title next to an illustration of a magnet attracting people figures carrying shopping bags

Let’s start our journey to reignite those lost connections and transform former customers into loyal advocates.

What is a Customer Win-Back Strategy?

A customer win-back strategy is the sum of your efforts to bring back customers who have stopped buying from your brand.

Businesses may do this by offering rewards, discounts, or special deals to encourage those customers to start buying again.

Customer win-back strategies work for different situations, like when someone bought once but never again, when someone almost bought something but changed their mind, or even when someone used to buy but stopped.

The goal is to make these customers feel valued and interested in the business again.

Winning customers back is a smart move for a business because it's often cheaper than finding completely new customers.

But before we see some strategies to re-engage lapsed customers, let’s see why, in the first place, they leave.

Why do Customers Leave?

There are many reasons why customers leave your business; not all are related to your business.

For example, people may stop buying from you because of life changes like relocation, job changes, or lifestyle shifts where you may have little control over keeping them engaged with your brand.

Financial constraints that cause customers to cut back on their spending.

Tip: Offering discounts or flexible payment options can be an effective way to win back customers who leave your brand due to financial issues.

Other than these, there are causes of losing customers that are directly or closely related to your way of working or approaching your customers.

Here are some common factors why customers stop buying from your brand:

Changes in Needs or Preferences over Time: Nothing stays the same and your customers are no exception. “What can I do if someone changes?” you may ask.

Well, it is critical for businesses to adapt and offer solutions that cater to these changing preferences.

If you see your customers’ needs or preferences are changing, and they start seeking different products that better align with their current needs, it might time for you to start thinking about the improvements that you can make to align with their needs again.

Offers from Competitors: You think you have a good product with a good price, but there is always a competitor who offers a similar product with a better price.

This might be the main cause why customers might switch to a competitor.

If they feel like another brand offers better value, quality, or pricing, they may be long gone before you can explain why your product is a better choice.

For this reason, you should always keep an eye on your competitors and make necessary improvements or differentiations.

Poor Customer Experience: This one barely needs an explanation. It’s a fact that poor customer experience is a one-way ticket to lapsed customers.

In fact, in a survey about the consequences of bad customer experience, almost half of the customers (49%) said they were most likely to switch to a competitor when the brands did not meet their expectations.

Below, you can see the other consequences of having a bad customer experience. 👇

Consequences of having a bad user experience graph

Poor customer experience is a huge red flag for customers, so brands must focus on improving customer service and product quality to rebuild trust to not lose them.

Unresolved Complaints: As a part of poor customer experience, unresolved complaints have a huge role in losing customers.

As unresolved complaints directly affect the customer experience negatively, ensuring actively addressing and resolving any complaint is essential.

Lack of Engagement: Engagement and personalization go hand-in-hand when it comes to customer retention.

If you can’t engage with your customers on a regular basis or provide personalized experiences, they may feel neglected or undervalued.

This feeling leads them to search for another brand that can provide better engagement and personalization.

Pro Tip: User-generated content (UGC) was used by 68 percent of global marketers in their online engagement efforts worldwide in 2022. So might want to check out the types of user-generated content to include UGC in your win-back strategy.

Overcommunication: Yes, we encourage engagement with customers but that doesn’t mean that there are no limits.

On the flip side of engagement, excessive marketing communication can also lead to customer disengagement. The balance is the key regarding the engagement efforts.

Issues with Products or Services: Your customers pay for the product or service that you offer, so they want to get the highest quality. This is very natural but very alarming for businesses.

In order to retain your customers, ensure you prevent technical glitches, outdated products, or service problems that can be frustrating for customers.

Inadequate Incentives: In an effort to draw in customers, businesses often look up to incentives such as discounts or promotions.

Discount email example offering 30% discount with a smiling faced yellow figure and "Catch your breath, relax your mind." email headline

Although this is a good approach to gaining new customers, if such incentives are no longer available, customers may start to disengage.

So it might be a good idea to reward customers with promotions and incentives to ensure they stay loyal to your brand.

12 Ideas for a Solid Customer Win-Back Strategy

1. Personalized Outreach

Let’s start with personalized outreach. To include this one in your strategy to re-engage lapsed customers, you can consider sending personalized emails addressing the customer by their name.

This might be the simplest way of personalizing communication with your lapsed customers. Also, if you have the data (data is the king), you may refer to their past purchases.

Personalized email example with the headline "What can we expect from your next photo?" with an empty frame below and an email text

For instance, you can gently remind them of their past purchase, such as those cozy fluffy slippers they bought last winter.

Then, you can highlight the availability of matching fluffy pajamas in your current inventory, creating a seamless and enticing connection between their previous and potential future purchases.

As a part of your personalized outreach actions, you can also offer special discounts to entice them to return. At this step, ensure to highlight the value they'll get.

Additionally, you have the option to craft a series of friendly emails aimed at gradually rekindling your connection with customers.

This involves starting with a warm reminder and then moving on to more enticing offers as you go along.

Running a re-engagement email campaign like this does require some careful planning because getting the timing and content just right is crucial.

But the good news is that the results can be quite rewarding, making it all worth the effort!

2. Retargeting Ads

Now, let's dive into the second strategy: Retargeting Ads.

Have you ever seen the laptop you checked on the sidebar of a website while you were watching a video? No, that’s not magic!

Retargeting ads use the power of online advertising to reach out to those lapsed customers when they're browsing other websites or scrolling through their social media feeds.

Much like our personalized outreach, it's all about staying on their radar in a subtle yet effective way.

So, when your lapsed customers visit other online places, these tailored ads pop up, reminding them of your presence and what you have to offer.

Here are some statistics that you might want to consider while adding retargeting ads to your customer win-back strategy:

In a survey about how comfortable users feel about retargeting ads in the United States in 2021:

  • 41% of participants said they'd like ads that match their interests more than ads based on what they do on websites.
  • 25% would rather not have ads that use their search history to target them.

3. Loyalty Programs

Moving forward in our quest to win back customers, let's explore another powerful tool: Loyalty Programs.

You can invite lapsed customers to join or rejoin your loyalty program, highlighting the benefits and rewards they stand to gain.

Whether exclusive discounts, early access, or VIP treatment, make it clear why they should return.

When customers receive an email about points or rewards they earned, their chances of interacting with your brand online increase.

Consider the iconic brand Starbucks as an exemplary case. Starbucks' loyalty program, known as Starbucks Rewards, has taken customer loyalty to new heights.

It's a prime example of how loyalty programs can work wonders.

Starbucks reward website with "Free Coffee is a Tap Away" headline followed by a green "Join now" button

Starbucks Rewards offers its members a variety of perks, including exclusive discounts, free drinks on their birthdays, and early access to new menu items.

These benefits are a clear incentive for customers to return and stay engaged.

There are many other examples out there. You can also see 7 Best Customer Loyalty Programs & Ideas That Work Wonders for more inspiration.

4. Gather Feedback

By simply asking your customers why they stopped using your products or services, you open the door to invaluable insights.

Their input can be the missing piece of the puzzle that helps you improve and grow. So, don't be shy – reach out, and have that conversation.

Feedback shows you the way forward in the ever-competitive business world.

Pro Tip: When you’re asking for feedback, try to use open-ended questions instead of yes/no questions, For example, ask, "What made you stop using our services?" or "How can we improve your experience?"

One way to collect feedback from customers is to use popups. A simple popup builder would serve this purpose.

You can check out many ready-to-use popup templates in our Playbook. See one example below. 👇

A feedback popup with the "Contact us"heading followed by email address, phone number and message fields

And don’t forget about the social media! Regularly monitor social media platforms for mentions, comments, and direct messages from lapsed customers.

5. Personalized Product Recommendations

A survey on customer preference for personalized recommendations from early 2023 indicated that 49 percent of U.S. shoppers wished for personalized product recommendations when shopping online.

This is huge!

What is a personalized recommendation?”, you may ask. Let’s see some examples.

First, we have Amazon, the e-commerce giant. They analyze your previous purchases and browsing history to recommend products you're likely to love.

Amazon recommended products section highlighted, showing related items to a card binder, with the card binder item above

For instance, if you bought a camera, they might suggest complementary accessories or related items like photography books.

This level of personalization can reignite interest and help you retain your customers.

Another example is Netflix. They use your viewing history to recommend movies and shows that align with your interests.

This not only keeps you engaged but also reduces churn. In fact, 75% of what people watch on Netflix comes from these recommendations.

Lastly, we have an example from Spotify. As you might already know, email marketing is a powerful tool for delivering personalized recommendations.

Brands like Spotify send personalized playlists based on your listening habits.

Whether it's a "Discover Weekly" playlist or a "Release Radar" filled with new music from your favorite artists, these emails are a reminder of the value they bring to your life.

Spotify discover weekly preview on the left in a phone mock-up and the headline on the right

In order to offer personalized recommendations;

  • Collect and analyze customer data
  • Segment your customer base into groups based on their behavior and preferences
  • Continuously test and refine your recommendation algorithms
  • Be transparent about how you use customer data and why you're making specific recommendations. Building trust is essential.

Pro Tip: You can always use popups to display personalized recommendations.

Personalized recommendation popup with a dog image wearing a cloth with a heading "Special items for your special friend"

6. Highlight New Features or Products

Winning back the interest of lapsed customers isn't just about reminding them of what they used to love; it's also about showing them what's new and exciting in your world.

Human beings are naturally drawn to innovation so why not take advantage of this for your win-back efforts?

Product update email showing a tool preview with a "Download" button followed by informative text and another image of the tool preview

Remember the queue at the stores when the new iPhone is released?

With every new iPhone launch, they create a buzz that reaches far and wide.

Loyal customers, as well as those who might have switched to other brands, are enticed by the promise of groundbreaking features and sleek designs.

By showcasing what's new, Apple not only retains its existing customer base but also attracts back those who may have strayed.

So by;

  • Generating excitement around new features or products
  • Offering lapsed customers exclusive access or early bird discounts on new offerings
  • Providing informative content that highlights the value and benefits of your new features or products
  • Incorporating feedback from lapsed customers into the development of new features or products,

You can get a chance to win your lapsed customers back.

This way, you can also repair relations with customers if they leave your brand due to trust issues in the first place.

7. Reconnect on Social Media

Social media is a formidable force for businesses of all kinds. When it comes to winning back your valued customers, establishing a well-planned social media presence is nothing short of essential.

However, it's not just about social media. To effectively reignite the interest of your lapsed customers, leveraging various communication channels is essential.

Reach out to them through a diverse array of methods, including email, SMS, social media, and even, when appropriate, direct mail.

Social media email example of Tens with the headline "Come hang with us" followed by a phone mock-up showing the Instagram account of Tens

Authenticity is your greatest ally as you engage with your lapsed customers across these channels. Express sincere appreciation for their past business, extending a warm thank-you for their support.

Offer enticing incentives to welcome them back into the fold.

And if their departure stemmed from a less-than-ideal experience, don't hesitate to offer a heartfelt apology and a tangible solution to address their concerns.

By meeting your customers where they are, using genuine language, and providing value, you can significantly increase your chances of winning them back.

8. Provide Exceptional Customer Service

To win back lapsed customers, (or for every business effort in general) exceptional customer service is paramount, especially when they've had negative experiences in the past.

Actively listen to their concerns and provide concrete solutions to address their issues.

When you show that you sincerely put effort in providing improvement and go above and beyond to exceed their expectations, lapsed customers will not only come back but they will also turn into loyal brand advocates.

9. Segmented Marketing

Segmented marketing is a powerful addition to your customer win-back strategy. By segmenting lapsed customers based on their behavior or preferences, you can tailor your re-engagement efforts more effectively.

For instance, you can create segments for customers who used to purchase specific product categories or those who frequently took advantage of discounts.

Understanding their past interactions with your brand allows you to craft personalized messages and offers that resonate with their interests.

By doing so, you demonstrate that you value their individual preferences, increasing the likelihood of their return.

10. Time-Limited Offers

Creating a sense of urgency can be a game-changer in your customer win-back strategy.

Time-limited offers are designed to do just that – encourage a quicker return.

By offering special promotions or discounts that are available for a limited time, you give lapsed customers a compelling reason to take action now rather than later.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) can be a powerful motivator.

In 2023, a study on the impact of coupon codes found that using digital coupon codes significantly improved online deal performance. Deals with coupons received 125% more daily clicks compared to deals without coupon.

You can use email marketing or popups on your website to let your customers know about your limited-time offers. See an example below 👇

Limited time offer popup with a green shoe image and a text "Oops! Look like you are letting go a limited-stock shoe"

11. Follow-Up with Abandoned Carts

The moment when a customer abandoned their cart is a critical time to win them back.

Because when customers leave items in their cart without completing the purchase, they've shown a clear interest in your products.

At that exact moment, you can send them a gentle reminder about their abandoned items and sweeten the deal with an incentive. Offer a discount, free shipping, or a bonus item to entice them to return and finalize their purchase.

Ensure that the discount code you offer is also working smoothly because 46 percent of buyers abandon carts because the discount code doesn’t work.

Lastly, if you choose to send an email to those who abandone their carts, take a look at the 50+ Click-Worthy Abandoned Cart Subject Lines + Examples.

12. Track and Measure Success

In any customer win-back strategy, it's essential to track and measure success. You need to know what's working and what's not so you can make informed adjustments to your strategies.

Set key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the effectiveness of your win-back efforts.

These may include metrics like conversion rates, email open rates, click-through rates, and return on investment (ROI).

Regularly analyze the data to identify trends and patterns. If a particular approach is yielding positive results, consider scaling it up.

Remember, customer win-back is an ongoing process, and continuous improvement is key to its success.

Why Customer Retention Matters

We have explained the reasons why customers leave and how you can win them back. Now, before we finalize our post, let's see why winning back customers matter.

Retained Customers are a Dependable Revenue Stream

One of the fundamental reasons businesses prioritize winning back customers is because existing customers serve as a dependable revenue stream.

Consider this: it's estimated that acquiring a new customer can be up to five times more expensive than retaining an existing one.

Also, customer retention can stabilize your business during economic downturns. Existing customers are less likely to be swayed by competitors when times are tough.

They Provide Cost-Efficiency

Moreover, retained customers often spend more over time.

Studies on the impact of customer retention on purchasing behavior have shown that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can boost profits by 25% to 95%.

This is because these customers not only continue to make purchases but also tend to explore more of your product or service offerings and may even be willing to pay higher prices for premium features.

Retained Customers are more Loyal

Loyal customers not only continue to buy from you but also become advocates for your brand. They're more likely to refer friends and family, helping you acquire new customers through word-of-mouth.

Consider these statistics on loyal customers:

  • Loyal customers who return to a business spend 31% more than new customers.
  • 46% of loyal customers continue buying from a brand even after a bad experience.

These statistics on the purchasing behavior of loyal customers highlight the immense value of customer loyalty and keeping your customers loyal.

Retained Customers can Provide Valuable Feedback

Their insights help you identify areas for improvement, refine your products or services, and stay competitive.

Similarly, happy customers contribute to a positive brand reputation which can attract new customers who are looking for trustworthy and reputable companies.

Before You Leave…

We've discussed strategies like sending personal messages, using online ads, and more to re-engage lapsed customers.

Consider them friendly and cost-effective invitations for your customers because keeping existing customers is often cheaper than finding new ones.

Remember that different customers may respond to different approaches, so it's often effective to combine several of these strategies to increase your chances of winning back lapsed customers.

So, before you say goodbye, remember that bringing back lost customers is a solid way of enhancing your business's long-term sustainability.

With the above ideas, you can create the perfect win-back strategy and make your business shine brighter than ever!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a Customer Win-Back Flow?

A customer win-back flow is a series of targeted marketing actions and communications designed to re-attract the interest and loyalty of lapsed or inactive customers.

You may have heard it as a “win-back campaign” or “re-engagement strategy”.

The goal of a customer win-back strategy is to entice these former customers to return to your business and make new purchases.

2. Are Win-Back Strategies Suitable for All Types of Businesses?

Customer win-back strategies work for lots of businesses, especially those with many customers.

But how you do it and when you do it can change based on what you sell and how your customers act.

So, it's crucial to make your win-back plan fit your business and customers to make it work really well.

3. How can I Ensure that my Win-Back Messages don't Annoy Customers?

Don't overwhelm customers who haven't been active with too many messages!

Instead, make sure your messages are helpful and meaningful. Personalize them, give them good reasons to come back, and tell them about any exciting updates.

Listen to what they like and how often they want to hear from you. If they're still not interested, send fewer messages.

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